Web services should be introduced as part of a business architecture, not a technology architecture, if organisations are to gain maximum benefit, Kevin Poulter, application technology manager at British American Tobacco, told last week's Corporate IT Forum (Tif) conference.
"The true benefits of a global service oriented architecture [SOA] only begin to emerge when we shift focus from technology architecture to business architecture," he said.
Over the past two years British American Tobacco has revamped its approach to integration and application development by adopting an SOA based on web services.
The company uses tools from four suppliers. Its SOA infrastructure employs tools from Blue Titan. Application integration is based on SAP products and an application router from US supplier Cast Iron. The SOA development platform is based on Skyway Software and SAP Web Applications Server.
Poulter told delegates at the Tif conference that the successful implementation of an SOA required the development and maintenance of a clear architectural vision.
With IT departments grappling with constant change, it was essential for ITdirectors to have their own frame of reference, he said.
Businesses should not assume they can build their SOA just by evolving the technology they already have, Poulter warned. They have to make their SOA mission-critical to the business as early as possible, while being prepared to move forward incrementally, he said.